I’m one of the people who enjoys grocery shopping. Maybe it’s because I lived in Belgium when I was a kid, but I’m all in favor of heading to the store three or more times a week to buy my food so that it’s fresh. I may or may not be on a first name basis with a few people at my local produce market.
And of course, whenever I head into that produce market, I always check to see if they have their fresh mozzarella on sale. It isn’t obnoxiously expensive regardless, but whenever it’s on sale, I always treat myself to some fresh buffalo mozzarella.
Sometimes I eat it plain or make pizzas with it, and sometimes I find fun and unique ways to use it. I love making a beautiful hot pomodoro sauce and tossing in my pasta with some fresh mozzarella just so it gets warm and melty.
But this week? This week I’ve been enjoying my own version of a caprese salad with the ciliegnini I bought from that produce market. It isn’t a traditional caprese salad by any stretch, but it is a gorgeous salad and is a perfect complement to summer whether as a salad to serve with your meal or all on its own as a lighter lunch.
This is one of those salads that is incredibly easy to toss together at the last minute, and it tastes amazing. The other day, I was planning to have friends over for dinner and make this salad with my lemon marinated chicken when I got the call at the last minute that a friend’s sitter fell through. Instead, we changed plans, and I took five minutes to make the salad before bringing it and my chicken to my friend’s house where we grilled there – and they were in awe of the salad. Sadly for me, there were no leftovers that night, but you can bet that I had it again for lunch the next day.
As with any salads (or hey, recipes in general), the best part is that you can adjust it to your particular tastes. This would be great with roasted red pepper added. If you’re vegetarian, skip the prosciutto – as much as it hurts my heart to type that. Fans of mushrooms could add them, and so it goes.
When making salads like this, the typical rule is to use about a 3 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I’ll be honest with you that I don’t always measure. I’ll drizzle it onto my salad and then taste test to see what needs to change to get the flavors the way I want. You may like more vinegar or more salt or more oil. Make it your salad. Just be sure to use the best quality balsamic vinegar you have and a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Because they are the stars of your salad, you want them to shine. This isn’t the time to pull out the old bottles you’ve had sitting in the back of your cabinet for who knows how long.
Just trust me. This salad has a great presentation for a dinner party or backyard barbecue, and it’s easy enough to make that you can focus on other items while wowing your guests and your tastebuds.
Spinach Caprese Salad
5 c baby spinach, washed and dried
10-12 ciliegnini (the small fresh buffalo mozzarella)
15 grape tomatoes
1 T balsamic vinegar
3 T olive oil
2 slices prosciutto
salt and pepper, to taste
Ensure your baby spinach leaves have been washed and thoroughly dried. This is something you can do earlier in the day or the day before to save yourself time and ensure the leaves are dry. The dressing won’t stay on them if they’re still wet from being washed.
Add your spinach to a large salad bowl. Slice your tomatoes and your cieglignini in half and toss them atop the spinach artfully.
Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the salad and follow it with a drizzle of the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Tear your prosciutto into small pieces by hand and add it to the top of your salad. See, it really does take just five minutes to make.
Present your salad to the table looking gorgeous, but before you serve, lightly toss the salad to ensure the dressing and ingredients are distributed throughout. Serve immediately after making.
This salad will easily serve 4 to 6 as a side salad. Feel free to scale it up or down to serve as many as needed.
- 5 c baby spinach, washed and dried
- 10-12 ciliegnini (the small fresh buffalo mozzarella)
- 15 grape tomatoes
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 slices prosciutto
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Wash and dry spinach leaves.
- Add spinach to a large salad bowl. Slice tomatoes and cieglignini in half and add to bowl. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salad and follow with a drizzle of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Tear prosciutto into small pieces by hand and add to the top of your salad.
- Present salad to the table looking gorgeous, but before you serve, lightly toss the salad to ensure the dressing and ingredients are distributed throughout. Serve immediately after making.
- Don't know that ciliegnini is? I have to look every time at the grocery store cheese counter for the name, but you want the small fresh buffalo mozzarella.
- This salad will easily serve 4 to 6 as a side salad. Feel free to scale it up or down to serve as many as needed. Add other ingredients to your preference - mushrooms, roasted peppers, etc would be a great addition, as well.
- You can wash your spinach earlier in the day or the day before to save yourself time and ensure the leaves are dry. The dressing won’t stay on them if they’re still wet from being washed, so make sure they're dry before you make this salad.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 124 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 19mg Sodium: 336mg Carbohydrates: 2g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 7g